3 Stars — Thought-provoking
It was Dante in his Inferno who first described hell as a place where all hope is abandoned. Conversely then, he infers that heaven is a place of hope and that to have hope is a necessary motivation to prepare not just for heaven but also for a better world here and now. Such hope motivates us to heal our environment, care for our families and love our fellow humans. But often the very warnings that are meant to motivate us into action so that we can act to heal our land and our lives creates a depressing, hopeless attitude of inevitability of a coming holocaust that cannot be stopped. It is this observation that is explored in the science-fiction film Tomorrowland.
Writer of the adapted screenplay, Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles) directed this futuristic film based on the story by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen. With a clear agenda that we need to act to save our world from destruction, the message is straightforward and speaks to both catastrophic environmental dangers as well as militaristic ones.
The ensemble cast focuses primarily on three individuals. Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson, George Clooney) is a genius chosen by Athena (Raffey Cassidy) to enter into a new world created in an alternate dimension called Tomorrowland. First meeting when they are children at the New York World’s Fair in 1964, they are taken with each other in a way that both enriches and complicates their lives. Years later, Athena recruits Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) to help them solve a problem that has overwhelmed them.
Joining them in this tale is Governor Nix (Hugh Laurie), who has become the leader of this new world created by such geniuses as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. The film also has some wonderfully ironic robots with vaporizing weapons and large smiles, but it is the science fiction itself that creates this fascinating tale.
Without spoiling the creative analogy formed by the story, the central message that it is the prediction of world destruction that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy is worthy of our consideration. If we think there is nothing we can do to save the world, then we seem to enter into a hopeless state that allows this predicted hell to become the only future we can imagine.
However, the film suggests that if we can give our dreamers and geniuses the hope of a better world, then humans will gather together across cultures and nationalistic boundaries to bring about healing and hope instead of hell. This is seen clearly as Athena’s replacements are recruiters sent into the world to find the generation of dreamers who can act as the yeast of change needed to save the world.
Although true healing and hope for our world requires far more than what brilliant and creative minds can produce, at the very least we need all the creativity and best minds working together to address the world’s problems that can be solved. That is a message worthy of thoughtful consideration and to put into action before it is too late.
» When you hear warnings of global warming raising the ocean levels such that Florida will become submerged underwater, what does that information do to you? Are you motivated to change, argue the science or give up in despair? Why do you respond as you do?
» Several recent films have played with the idea of humans falling in love with a robot with artificial intelligence. What is the difference, if any, between falling in love with another human being and falling in love with an artificial intelligence created by programmers?
» The sacrificial death of Athena made it possible for the world to have a chance at a different future. Do you believe she was a Christ-figure? Why do you answer as you do?
— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.